Excerpt from "The Nevada News" Wednesday, October 21, 1936
October 6, 1936 was the sixty-second anniversary of the city of Prescott, county seat of Nevada county.
W.H. Frazier, president, and Jackson Tyson, a member of the Nevada county Board of Supervisors, granted the charter on petition of P.C. Hamilton and 37 other property owners, who set out that there were 50 qualified voters residing in the community.
Although the charter was granted in 1874, it was not until 1876 that officers for the town were elected. They were W.J. Webb, mayor; M.J. Saxon, marshal; J.J. Whitesides, recorder; E.E. White, treasurer; Brad Scott, W.B. Waller, W.A. Bright, D.M. Wadley and Guy Nelson, aldermen.
The Cario and Fulton railroad, now (illegible) of the Missouri Pacific lines, had been constructed across the northern end of Nevada County in the summer of 1873. Townsites had been laid out for Boughton the eastern county line and Emmet on the western.
Robert Burns, a Little Rock merchant, moved overland with a stock of goods late in the spring of 1873 to Moscow, a little village two miles south of where Prescott is now located. After the railroad had been laid to Emmet he persuaded the directors of the road to locate a town near Moscow. In August that year, R.F. Elgin, Dan Cunningham, and Jim Kern, railroad surveyors, and W.H. Prescott, the county surveyor, laid out the present town of Prescott, the plat embracing 24 blocks on each side of the railroad right of way.
The survey was completed on Saturday night. The next morning John Elkanah Whiteside, father of Garrett Whiteside, private secretary to Senator Hattie Caraway, a clerk in Burns' store at Moscow, located the stakes driven by the engineers and was the first man to walk the streets of the new town.
Within two weeks, Burns built a small frame storehouse on West Main and First Streets, facing the railroad, with lumber hauled by Ed F. Gee from his father's sawmill four miles north of the townsite, and the next Sunday the Rev. Thomas Aaron, a traveling Methodist minister delivered a sermon in the building.
Two weeks later Steve Cantley, also a Moscow merchant, built his store across the street from the Burns store and opened for business. John Hawkins of Poison Springs, Ouahcita county then opened a restaurant in a tent on the east side of the railroad and began the erection of the town's first hotel on the block now occupied by the Allen hotel.
The railroad company built its depot in the middle of Main street abut November 1. It remained there until the present brick passenger station was erected in 1911. The old building being moved south of Elm street where it is used as a freight station. Dan Cunningham, one of the town's surveyors, was the first station agent. R.F. Elgin was the first agent at Emmet.
The new town was named for W.H. Prescott - that much is certain - but it will always be a question whether it was named in honor of the county surveyor who later became county judge, as is contended by many, or in honor of the historian of Salem, Mass., a personal friend of Thomas Allen and Henry G. Marquand, railroad officials. It was a coincidence that the men had the same initials and one of them assisted in the survey of the new town.
News of the starting of a town on the new railroad near the old Washington and Camden Military road caused men of all trades and profession to flock to Prescott, and the town soon took on the appearance of an oil boom twn (sp). Luis P. Wilan opened the town's first saloon on West Main street and Drs. Bob and Bill Arnold moved in from Artesian and became the first doctors and druggists. Capt. John Ansley moved his academy from Artesian to a new building on West Main street and became the first schoolmaster. On November 24 Prescott got a postoffice and its first resident, Robert Burns, was named postmaster.
The late Andrew Monson, who died here recently at the age of 95, erected the first two-story building on East Elm street where Joe Boswell is now located. Mr. Monson was born in Hurby, Sweden, coming to America in 1869, locating at Moscow in 1871. He taught violin lessons, sold books and ran a tan yard until he moved to the new town in the fall of 1873.
The late Geo. W. Terry, who died about two weeks ago, at the age of 95, at his home in Sulphur, Okla., and was buried here, came to Prescott on January 8, 1874, and entered the drug business, was postmaster and later served as county clerk. Col. E.A. Warren was the first mayor and later edited the Prescott Dispatch.
In January, 1875, E.E. and W.B. White, sons of the sheriff, Capt. Joe White, established the first local newspaper, The Banner. E.E. White became a leading lawyer, but his brother continued in the newspaper business the remainder of his life at times being the town marshal and for a while deputy United States marshal. Archie Johnson, a grandson of W.B. White, is owner and editor of the present Nevada News and Prescott Daily News.
February 14, 1878, the White Brothers and their cousin, Cole Yates, established the Nevada County Picayune, now owned and published by Harry Helton. In the old Picayune office, Fred W. Allsopp, Dan Lellahoyde, Jack Johnson, Charlie Shankle, the Ross brothers and many others served their apprenticeships and began successful newspaper careers.
"Uncle" Haley Kershaw, an Englishman, who was about as broad as he was tall, was the town's first confectioner, and from the date of his arrival from Camden until his death, no child in or near Prescott could be convinced that candy that came from any other store was as good as that "Uncle" Haley sold.
"Uncle" Haley was also the first baker and his wife, "Aunt" Louisa, enjoyed a nenviable (sp) reputation for the large ginger cakes she baked. They were called "stageplanks" because of their enormous size. Fred W. Allsopp, business manager of the Gazette, recently recalled to the writer that when he arrived with his parents in Prescott early one morning in 1879 they had breakfast at "Uncle" Haley's, where young Allsopp was introduced to his first cup of black coffee and his first hot biscuits. Mr. Kershaw's daughter, Mrs. Lizzie Sales, resides in Prescott.
The Prescott School District was organized in 1877. Judge W.E. Atkinson was county examiner, and the Rev. Thomas W. Tayes, who in 1870, established the Hayes Academy at Mineral Springs, was the first principal of a free school. He was the father of Mrs. Lucius Hinton who taught many years in Little Rock schools. In 1877 a two and a half mill school tax was voted. In 1880, Thomas Allen donated a block of land to the school district and a two story frame building was erected, Prof. G.A. Hayes of Texarkana was elected principal.
Early in 1874, a stage line began operations between Prescott and Camden. Robert Hawkins had charge of the stage stand. The stages traveled the Wire road which got its name from the fact that the lone telegraph wire of the Prescott and Camden Telegraph Company followed the road. Britt Burns, now a Memphis physician and surgeon, was one of the first telegraph operators.
Dr. T.M. Milam was Prescott's first dentist, afterwards removing to Little Rock. Jake Botenspurger and Squire J. B'Shers was (sp) the first shoemakers. Clarence McGill and Tom Bryant, the first photographers; M.W. Haltom, the first jeweler; R.M. and J.R. Fair, the first woodworkers; Adam Fredrick, the first barber; and Tandy Keys, the first blacksmith. Isaac Moore operated the first Opera House, and a man named Curlin, the first meat market.
Samuel A. Reppy, who was afterwards mayor, organized the first Sunday School, April 20, 1874, and had charge of the first Christmas tree in the same year.
The Cumberland Presbyterian congregation erected Prescott's first church in May, 1875, on East Main street, where now the First Baptist church now stands. The untiring efforts of Mrs. Elizabeth Griffith, mother-in-law of Anders Monson, in getting subscriptions were largely responsible for the success of the venture. Most of the cash donations came from saloonists, while others gave hogs and cattle. The Rev. Fleming Sanders was the first pastor, serving until his death at Lewisville, July 3, 1877, when he was shot by a man, he, W.B. White and Dr. T.M. Milam had gone to arrest, who was in turn killed by Officer W.B. White, Thomas H. Bascomb, in an extra edition of his paper, the Clipper, July 7, 1877, gave a detailed account of the two slayings.
The county seat was removed from Rosston to Prescott in August, 1877, and the first term of County Court was held in the new Methodist church on October 1. In later years court was held in a two-story frame building erected on East First street by Capt. Joe White. In 1877, W.J. Blake, Alex Brown and Z.R. White, commissioners, accepted a site for the new courthouse from Allen and Marquand, and in 1884 a two-story brick building was erected under the supervision of Thomas C. McRae and W.E. Atkinson, commissioners. It was razed in 1912 and the present courthouse was erected by Judge A.M. Denman and Mr. McRae, C.C. Hamby and J.J. Hirst, commissioners.
Prescott's first brick building was a law office on East Main street, built by a brickmason named Treadway of Camden for the law firm of Thomas C. McRae and Col. George P. Smoote. Within the next year several brick store buildings were erected.
In 1880 when the town's population reached 1,283, D.L. Lauterette and his son-in-law, L.C. Driggs, under the firm name of Driggs & Co., established the first bank in a small frame building on East First street. The firm had a large iron safe on which an alarm clock was kept, the bankers explaining to the residents that the safe could only be opened after the alarm went off. In 1886, J.C. Young and W.H. Terry became the owners of the banking business and changed its name to Nevada County Bank.
Fire has destroyed all the buildings erected in 1873, except the freight depot, which has been remodeled and the two-room residence on West Third street, built by W.P. Buchanan, one of the town's first carpenters. Mrs. Mattie Cantley, widow of Steve Cantley, is the only resident of Prescott who was grown and moved into the new town in the fall of 1873.
Prescott for many years has been referred to at "The pride of prairie De Anne," which was a misnomer as the town was laid out in a strip of woods called "the narrows" which form a wedge into the prairie, and the town was not on the prairie.
(Transcription Notes: All grammatical constructions, syntax, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been retained from the original. Jon Chadwell, 2/7/2001)